Hannold Draw, Big Bend National Park, TX

Hannold Draw, Big Bend
Looking north at sunrise to the Chisos Mountains from Hannold Draw in Big Bend National Park.

LOCATION: Big Bend National Park, TX
KIND: National Park
RATES: Hannold Draw as well as all the other primitive camp sites in Big Bend requires a wilderness permit: $10 or $5 with an interagency pass. Park entry fees are separate. Entry is free with an interagency pass.
RESERVATIONS ACCEPTED: No. First come first served for all the primitive sites in the park.
CAMPGROUND WEB SITE: This link is to the NPS page about primitive camping in Big Bend
PHONE: 432-477-1158. This is the Panther Junction Visitor Center and Park HQ
EMAIL: The link is to web form email on the NPS site
GPS: N 29.37560, W 103.15633 These coordinates mark the turnoff to an unnamed and unmarked dirt road to the camping area. It is two tenths of a mile to the corral and parking area. The road is gravel and passable by pretty much any rig in my estimation. Oddly, when I check the coordinates in Google Maps a pin is dropped on the map at the intersection described above, however, in Google Earth the pin is dropped along the dirt road to the camping area instead of the intersection.

Butte Near Catalon, Big Bend
I loved the rich red colors of this butte near Catalon in Big Bend National Park, especially set against the rich blue of the sky with its beautiful white clouds.

ACCESS: Hannold Draw is two tenths of a mile down a dirt and grave road off highway 385. There was a little bit of minor washboard and rutting when I was there but I think it would be easily passable by pretty much any rig.
PULL THRU: Yes, it’s a large circular area.
BACK-IN: Yes, it’s a large circular area.
TENTS: I think they are OK but check with the park.
LEVELNESS: Pretty good
SPACING: Only one site exists here but the site area is also the parking area for equestrian equipment, i.e. trucks and trailers.
PETS: On leash. Park pet policy is here.

PeeWee in Big Bend
PeeWee poses in front of the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas. This shot was taken along the road to the Paint Gap primitive campsites.

ELECTRICAL: No. You cannot run generators in the primitive sites of the park; only on the paved roads.

I did not have cell reception on either my AT&T iPhone 5s or my Verizon iPad air. Cell service is spotty in the park and can be difficult or impossible.

Over-the-air: I didn’t check
Cable: None
WiFi: At the Chisos Mountains Lodge which I think is about 14 miles from Hannold Draw. Also at Rio Grande Village which is about 27 miles.


BUGS: None when I was there in January

View Along Lost Mine Trail
View along the Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend Nat’l Park, TX. This hike is about 4.8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1,100′. There are wonderful views along the way and it runs through habitat much different than desert below.

Gas: Panther Junction, 5 miles
Dump: I think it would be Rio Grande Village where the only RV camping with hookups is found in the park: 27 miles
Propane: Rio Grande Village, by appointment
Groceries: There are very limited items available within the park at Castalon, Chisos basin and Rio Grande Village

Hannold Draw is one of a small number of primitive camping area within Big Bend National Park. It is one of two locations of which I learned that I thought I could access in my ass-dragging 30′ Class C coach, the other being Paint Gap 1. The latter was my first choice before arriving at the park but it was not available until two days later so I took Hannold Draw. Originally I signed up for two nights at Hannold followed by 3 mights at Paint Gap, but later I decided to stay at Hannold rather than move because Paint Gap is about a mile up a dirt road that looked like it could get muddy and rain was in the forecast. Hannold Draw on the other hand was a very short distance down a gravely road that I thought would hold up better in wet weather. The park web site has photos of some of the primitive areas and when I looked at the shot of Paint Gap 1 it looked much larger than it actually is–I made a trip on my motorcycle to reconnoiter. There was a Class B rig in the spot when I visited and I think a Class C or Class A would find the site quite narrow.

Lone Tree, Lost Mine Hike, Big Bend
I came across this one tree seemingly growing out of the rock at the top of the mountain while hiking the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park.

Big Bend is a large park with no fewer than five Visitor Centers. Panther Junction Visitor Center is also the park HQ. It is centrally located in the park. The turnoff to Hannold Draw is about 4.9 miles north of Panther Junction by my odometer. The turnoff is completely unmarked. A ranger told me it had to do with preventing “campsite jumping” which I took to mean unlawful occupation of the campsite by people without permits. Why then they would mark other turnoffs to primitive sites with a sign such as Paint Gap is unclear to me. Please see my GPS coordinates and accompanying notes above.

Machinery Relic, Catalon, Big Bend
I’m not sure what this machinery relic was used for when many years ago Catalon, TX was a town where people lived and worked. There was some cotton farming there for a while, I know that.

One vehicle is allowed to camp at Hannold Draw. Perhaps one unit would be more accurate and I believe an RV and towed vehicle are allowed. The parking area is a circular are maybe 75′ in diameter. Im really guessing here, but I can say there is enough room for one rig plus a pickup truck or two with horse trailers if people are thoughtful about how they park. There is a small horse corral at the end of the parking area and as you’d surmise by my previous notes the camping area is shared by equestrians although none were present during my stay.

Hannold Draw was really super quiet at night despite the fact it is close to 385, one of the main roads into the park. If cars passed by I could not hear them at all. Big Bend is a certified Dark Sky location so on a clear night with no moon to interfere the stars are very visible. During the day I could hear heavy equipment in the distance–nearby the camping area is one of four permanent locations in the park where dirt, gravel and concrete road barriers are stored for use in construction projects in the park. You can get a real good idea of the layout of the area by entering the GPS coordinates (above) into Google Earth or Google Maps while selecting the Satellite View. I could hear faint sounds of the big diesel engines of earth moving equipment and the beep-beep-beep of the backup warnings of same, but I didn’t really notice them much inside my rig. If you’re off during the day enjoying the park you won’t encounter this very much anyway. I expect that after work hours and on weekends there won’t be any such noise. I parked my rig so that bushes blocked my view of most of the work area. I still had good views of the Chisos Mountains.

View Along the Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend
View along the Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas.

If you’re interested in inexpensive digs for your RV in Big Bend that is centrally located, if you don’t mind sharing your camping area with an equestrian or two during the day, a little noise from the construction activities, and not being able to run a generator at all, Hannold Draw might be a spot to consider.

More information on Big Bend can be found in my Travel Report.

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2 thoughts on “Hannold Draw, Big Bend National Park, TX”

  1. Hello Russ,

    Just an FYI on the primitive campsites at Big Bend. A few years ago I camped at K-Bar 1. The access road was good enough for any rig (also good down to #2). But the best part, was that shortly after you turn off the highway you pass an older ranch house that has 2 water faucets with one being insulated and frost free.

    The backcountry passes are really nice. You can can camp 10 days for $10 ($5 for us old geezers). And you can mix any combination of mountain backpacking sites, primitive roadside campsites, or dispersed desert camping (Zone Camping).


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